Boston Public Library (1895)


Founded in 1848 by an act of the Massachusetts legislature and first opened in 1854, the Boston Public Library moved to its current building, on Copley Square, in 1895. Designed by Charles Follen McKim, of McKim, Mead, and White, the building (built 1887-1895) is modeled on the style of an Italian Renaissance palazzo and is also influenced by Alberti’s San Francesco at Rimini, with an inner courtyard, based on the Palazzo della Cancelleria in Rome. McKim’s Beaux Arts training led to the classicism of the Library building, influenced in particular by Henri Labrouste‘s Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève (built 1843-1850) in Paris. This style would greatly influence the design of American public buildings in the following decades. The Boston Public Library, both inside and out, combines architecture with famous sculpture and mural painting. The neighboring Harvard Medical School building of 1883 was demolished and replaced by Philip Johnson‘s New Brutalist-style Library Addition in 1966 to 1972.

2 Responses to Boston Public Library (1895)

  1. Joe says:

    I believe there is a church designed by Richardson in Springfield.

  2. Dana T says:

    The 1972 addition has been beautifully reworked to be now very warm and inviting–a lesson in the possibilities awaiting other scorned architectural works from the 1960s like Boston City Hall.

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